The Laura Perrins interview: Peter Hitchens on why it is time to emigrate

Laura PerrinsThe Rage Against God is a profound book. It is deeply personal and almost a conversation between you and your late brother. It must have been emotionally challenging?

 

Peter HitchensI loathed writing it. I didn’t want to write it and resisted the suggestion for a long time. I thought and think that the only honest way to present it would be to say that it was written to take advantage of the fuss about ‘God is not Great’, which, of course, it was and is. I came close to abandoning it more than once and without the aid of my elder son Dan I would have done so.

All my other books have been published as written, and written more or less in a continuous effort. Dan persuaded me to cut and reorder it greatly, to turn it into a publishable work. In the end I suspect it may last longer than any of my books, and I hear almost every week from people who have found it personally useful and helpful, which is hugely pleasing.

But I didn’t have any trouble with disagreeing publicly with Christopher, nor did I expect him to be upset by it. Our relations were complicated, and he was seriously cheesed off when I recalled his ambiguity about the USSR during the Cold War, just when he was becoming an American patriot (which I freely admit was deliberately mischievous of me, but it was also important). What surprised me about that occasion was that he chose a long cold silence rather than a good, hot argument, which was what I had expected him to do (I’d recalled precisely the same incident, of him saying, in the context of the Cold War and nuclear disarmament, he didn’t care if the Red Army watered its horses in Hendon, on US TV some years before, and he’d just smiled at the memory).

I sent him the manuscript of ‘The Rage Against God’ in exchange for a proof of ‘Hitch-22’, and he said at the time he fully expected to be asked to review ‘Rage’ (which he said in an e-mail had caused him some serious chin-stroking by which he meant that he’d found some of my points telling),  so would leave his comments for then.  I never found out what they would have been. 

It is a measure of the spiteful hostility of the literary and publishing world towards me that no editor chose to ask him to do so, ever. It’s an obvious idea, and one almost any editor might have thought interesting, but the desire to deprive me and my book of the oxygen of publicity proved stronger. So that friendly moment passed forever. He was due to appear with me in a joint interview on Fox TV a few months later, but this never happened. He called me from hospital just before the interview was due to start to say he had been taken ill in the night and couldn’t make it. That was the moment I learned he was sick, long before it became public. After that, what he thought of my book, and what I thought of his, became a bit irrelevant. I was in any case determined, by then, to avoid any other cause for conflict.

 

LP: The image of the Prodigal Son by Thomas Hart Benton, you discuss early in the book, is powerful. This parable is one of my favourites, and was the gospel reading at my wedding. The painting is pessimistic, conveying the message that inheritance once squandered can never be recovered. How serious are the consequences for Britain if she continues squandering her Christian inheritance?

 

PH: The consequences are limitless. It is hard to think of any society, apart from the USA, which so completely absorbed Christian ideas into its culture, literature and discourse. Normal British conversation, let alone poetry and literature, was full of Biblical and Prayer Book references, or to allusions to ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’.  Behaviour was greatly influenced by this. As it has now almost completely gone, we must rely on threat and reward, all-powerful employers and the fear of the sack, plus a strong State and huge amount of surveillance, to achieve anything like the same level of peace, order and honesty. This process is really only just beginning, and will become more urgent as the last generations to be influenced by Christian teaching die.

The Benton painting is not pessimistic. It is just deliberately shocking, reinforcing the original parable by pointing out how it could have ended differently. In fact the parable is already quite bitter. The prodigal son faces a life of serfdom, his inheritance squandered on riotous living. The good brother is not assuaged by his father’s words, and the careful reader can see (as he cannot, I think, in any of the other parables) trouble coming later on in the story, which disturbs the metaphor. 

The same thing is also unsatisfactorily dealt with in the parable of the vineyard, where the workers who have toiled all day are rather incredibly satisfied by the Lord’s explanation of his decision to pay the latecomers the same as those who have toiled all day. This may well be how grace operates, but it’s not easy to accept. But the Benton picture shows why this must be. Without the hope of forgiveness, the Prodigal would never return, or would return too late, to the abandoned, windswept farm and the bones of the fatted calf whitening amid the desolation.

 

LP: Many commentators believe that the destruction of the Christian faith will lead to a kinder, more moral, and charitable society.

 

PH: Do they? I think they hope it will lead to a society in which fewer demands are made on them, which is rather different. But this is the difference which a belief in eternity makes. If we exist in eternity, then what we do here matters somewhere else, and at some other time, and the immediate consequences of our actions aren’t the most important things about them.  It might lead to more public acts of self-publicising ‘goodness’, but this is the problem of all Godless ethical systems. They rely on the appearance of goodness rather than on the inner heart seen only by God, and anyone who has attended a school or worked in an office will know that people are not always exactly as they seem to be.

 

LP: You believe that when it comes to “millions of small and tedious good deeds that are required for a society to function with charity, honesty and kindness a shortage of believing Christians will lead to society’s decay.”

 

PH: Well, I think this is almost platitudinous. Almost every day, someone dumps litter in my bicycle basket, an act either of great stupidity (how can you mistake a bike basket for a litter bin) or of inconsiderate laziness or of supposedly humorous contempt. Mostly (not, alas, absolutely always, as I sometimes lose my temper), I carefully carry this litter some distance to an actual litter bin. The only reason, absolutely the only reason, for my doing this is my belief in a just God. 

The surrounding streets are usually covered in dropped litter and blobs of gum, and if I were to hurl it to the ground it wouldn’t make any practical difference. It’s only God that makes me do it.  The chance of my being prosecuted for throwing it on the ground are incalculably tiny. Of course some moron will try to suggest that this is the only effect this belief has on me, but in fact I mention it precisely because of its triviality. It is one of those millions of good deeds. If everyone stopped doing them, you’d soon notice.

 

LP: The evidence of societal decay is all around us especially in the criminal and family courts. I also think that to prevent the most obvious cases of decay and indeed injustice the State will have to step in where once the little platoons governed. This reduces our liberty and is oppressive.

How far do you think the decay will go, and/or how big will the State get?

 

PH: There is no limit that I can see, not least because (for reasons discussed above) the State cannot in fact substitute for morality. The more it tries to do so, the more it will fail. And the more it will try to do so.

 

LP: For our readers' sake, can you recap on how fundamental atheism was to the brutal and barbaric communist nations?

 

PH: The idea that human beings are wholly malleable is essential to revolutionary projects, which cannot succeed unless human nature is changed. This is the fundamental reason why revolutionaries are hostile, especially to the Christian religion and its insistence that Man is made in the Image of God, and therefore not, ultimately, alterable. Revolutionaries also rightly see religion as a rival for the complete dominance of the public mind which they seek, often through the virtual abolition of private life and conscience which is standard in such societies.

 

LP: Towards the end of the book, you discuss how well-known atheists say that raising a child in a religious tradition is ‘child abuse.’ This comparison is really a hate crime, an incitement to hatred against parents of faith? Do you agree?

 

PH: I don’t really like designations such as ‘hate crime’. A crime is a crime. As I explain in the book, this attitude contains an implicit threat to freedom of speech and thought, totalitarian in nature. This is why my comparison between modern atheists and 20th century totalitarians, often rejected by these atheists, is demonstrably valid. Modern utopianism is hedonist and far closer to Brave New World than to 1984, but it is utopianism and it is by its nature intolerant towards its chief rival, namely religion.

 

LP: I also watched you debate marriage at the Oxford Union on YouTube. It amazes me that so-called libertarians believe that we should “get the State out of the marriage business”, in other words the State should not recognise marriage.

 

PH: But why would it amaze you? Marriage is a rival to the State, and a safeguard for private life, as well as being a nursery of tradition. The establishment of civil marriage was an attack upon it, as was the introduction of civil divorce – both of which were consequences of the State’s growing power and of society’s growing need for a more pliant and flexible form of family life, submissive to commercial, civic and military needs. This, of course, requires it to be more easily dissoluble. The genius of the Left is that they have sold the resulting enslavement of women to cash employers, who can chuck them aside like an old glove on a whim, as a liberation.

 

LP: In fact, marriage as well as being a profound commitment between one man and one woman, is a bulwark against State power and intrusion – as you say in your speech. Its abolition will lead to ever-greater State interference in family and private life. Can you understand the libertarian stance on this?

 

PH: I’d dispute the use of the word ‘libertarian’. No liberation is taking place. I am always reminded in these moments, where people are persuaded that their interests lie in a ghastly new serfdom, of the terrible scene in C.S.Lewis’s ‘the Last Battle’ in which the Dwarves, refusing to see the true liberation offered them by Aslan, insist self-righteously that ‘The Dwarves are for the Dwarves’ and are then marched off to slavery (and presumably miserable death) in the Tisroc’s mines. All the enslavements of modern society, which offers nothing but work and money as we dwell in hutches amid an undifferentiated landscape of concrete, plastic and neon, are presented to their victims as liberation. Amidst all this, that is why drugs and drink may come to look like liberation too. Brave New World again.

 

LP: What would you do to try to revive marriage?

 

PH: I have no idea. I gave up all engagements in politics after 2010, when millions of self-identified patriotic, Christian conservatives combined to save their deadliest enemy, the Conservative Party. Just as Tom Lehrer said there could be no satire after Henry Kissinger got the Nobel Peace Prize, there can be no hope after that. I engage in some limited causes, but the general political transformation needed to save marriage is quite beyond anything I could hope to do.

 

LP: How will things look for the grandchildren? Do you have any optimism?

 

PH: Unbearable to contemplate. When I advise people in their thirties to emigrate, as I repeatedly do, they think I am joking and ask me stupid questions about where to go, as if they will be the ones choosing. I have never been more serious in my life. Optimism in this country as it is now would be irresponsible as well as foolish. If I were young enough to seek a new life abroad, I would be busy doing so.

 

You can find a copy of Peter's book, The Rage Against God, here.

Laura Perrins

  • Earthenware

    Binary arguments such as “religion or barbarism” don’t really help. Most people can see that their personal morality is not dictated by religious belief or tradition.

    Looking at the history of Europe, I see very little correlation between civilised behaviour and Christian belief, quite the reverse. The Religious Wars that took place between 1650 and 1715 contain numerous examples of dreadful behaviour.

    We do know that Communist regimes were awful – but that was not because they were irreligious, it was because Communism favours the darkest aspects of human nature.

    It is not religion that counters these dark aspects, it is the striving of ordinary people to better their lives and the lives of their children – something that they are usually able to do in the absence of hierarchical power structures which award power to bad people.

    We enjoy our current standard of living because of the sacrifices of generations past, not because of the past status of the Church.

    And that standard of living is under attack by Marxist idealism, not by the absence of religious belief.

    • Busy Mum

      But generations past, who made the sacrifices, believed in God.

      And the absence of religious belief is handing victory to the Marxist idealists.

    • chebstop larrig

      “Most people can see that their personal morality is not dictated by religious belief or tradition.”

      most people want to believe they’re intelligent

    • chebstop larrig

      “We do know that Communist regimes were awful – but that was not because they were irreligious, it was because Communism favours the darkest aspects of human nature.”

      hitler was a really super sensitive guy and that we should all admire his early work

    • chebstop larrig

      “It is not religion that counters these dark aspects, it is the striving of ordinary people to better their lives and the lives of their children”

      >it is not the sun that sets behind the mountains but the mountains which set the sun

      • Bogbrush

        Countering his correct statement with your own (deliberately) silly one isn’t a convincing argument. Then again, that’s more than enough to believe in God, right?

        • chebstop larrig

          the key word you use there is “counter”

          • Bogbrush

            Or would be if your (numerous) posts had any useful meaning.

          • chebstop larrig

            nice brush

    • chebstop larrig

      “something that they are usually able to do in the absence of hierarchical power structures which award power to bad people.”

      >the benefits we gain during this transitory period before the baby has indeed made it out with the bathwater will last forever

    • chebstop larrig

      “We enjoy our current standard of living because of the sacrifices of generations past, not because of the past status of the Church.”

      >the sacrifices of all those atheists

      “And that standard of living is under attack by Marxist idealism, not by the absence of religious belief.”

      the spring and the hammer killed the mouse, not the mouse trap

    • Roger Sutherland

      “We do know that Communist regimes were awful – but that was not because they were irreligious, it was because Communism favours the darkest aspects of human nature.”

      It does? Every communist revolution in the 20th century was led by people who were “striving to better their lives and the lives of their children”. That is the same virtue you praise when you try to disprove any causal association between religion and good behaviour. The reason these communists did not think twice about their extreme violence is because they were materialists with no belief in cosmic justice. Why should they fear retribution if there is no power to judge them? It is easy to let the ends justify the means if nobody can punish you for it – and if the materialist worldview is right, Lenin, Stalin and Mao all did a good job of escaping any punishment for their crimes. Their victims also get no justice, and are reduced to little more than constituents of some death toll to be cited by anti-communists.

      You are right, however, that most people in modern Britain do not allow their “personal morality” to be dictated by religious belief or tradition. That is why so many of them have no problem with abortion, despite it being an obvious violation of human dignity and the right to life. I suppose this selfish society is good for people who view obligation as a bad thing, because it’s such a terrible violation of liberty not to over-eat, binge drink, fornicate, and so forth. They can enjoy it while it lasts.

  • Bogbrush

    I continue to be dismayed at the idea that those free from religious belief are somehow driven to baser instincts, and that without Christianity people default to a selfish, mean instinct.

    I have on numerous occasions on the forum put forward a clear explanation of why what humans call “morality” is in fact simply educated self-interest with its roots in evolution. The association between atheism and selfishness – or as a precursor to brutal regimes – is lazy, based on the presumption that people start off as uncooperative, nasty pieces of work who need a deity to tell them how to behave.
    The reverse is true; people left without outside interference (and here I include the State) create order and interdependence because those are the characteristics our distant forefathers evolved to survive to reproduce, just as other social animals did (and through the same mechanisms that other, unsociable creatures developed their own solution to breeding). It can be messy and will involve violence because that is a component of our species that religion has never challenged.

    I am prepared to accept that, threatened with an eternity of torture, people might be compelled to act as if they are “moral”, but at the same time those convictions can also compel them to unspeakably awful acts. In neither case does it fill me with enthusiasm for the process, just as threatening children with dire consequences fails to teach them anything about rightness, just obedience.

    Finally, there is only one reason to believe in a God, and it’s got nothing to do with social order or anyones perception of human instinct; it must be because they have found sufficient testable evidence of the existence of the thing they believe in. Our system of law is based on no lesser principles and it would seen odd for disputes between humans to be resolved on untestable convictions, just as we would never now accept as explanations for bizarre or dangerous behaviour the same excuses recounted in the Bible (such as for Abrahams imminent act to kill his son because he heard voices telling him to).

    • Sosnowski

      The Bible backs you up on this. In Genesis, Adam and Eve eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, acquiring the sense necessary to reason ethically, but their first resulting decision, to cover their genitals, is ethically neutral; they don’t yet know how to interpret this new sense (which I guess is shame and the anticipation of shame). Since this is the trigger for their expulsion from Eden and the Original Sin, I think the story is saying that humans have within them the ability, but not necessarily the skill, to tell good from evil, and that the impulse to prefer the good is natural, however easily confused.

    • chebstop larrig

      “I have on numerous occasions on the forum put forward a clear explanation of why what humans call “morality” is in fact simply educated self-interest with its roots in evolution.”

      there’s a likeness but nothing to state that it is directly contrived from. christianity indeed could have compounded upon this rule set, added and detracted as it liked to produce a set with outcomes a little less competitive-orientated.

      “The association between atheism and selfishness – or as a precursor to brutal regimes – is lazy, based on the presumption that people start off as uncooperative, nasty pieces of work who need a deity to tell them how to behave.”

      everyone starts off a blank and suggestible slate. this isn’t “lazy”; this the fact of birth; and with that there are many “smart” enough to manipulate these blank slates. “god” is a quick set of *commands* (much like programming language) which can set humans early on a quick barometer of what is permissible.

      in theory this does not need to be done but the “free market” logic applied to all things invariably leads to a lot of manipulation, conspiracy, cults and cliques etc and so “what makes moral sense” can and is regularly short-cut by that belief that “trial and error will leave the modern human with a sense of right vs wrong”. this is true; it will leave you with A sense but not ~the~ sense; i.e. a sense socially shared.

      you don’t *need* a deity to tell you how to behave; you need other humans to tell you exactly what the magical entity the little ones are too small to disbelieve should be made to believe so that one can quickly teach through this shortcut without doubt settling in very quickly and all of those proto-humans suddenly all becoming avant-garde nihilists aged 5.

      hitchens makes an analogy in relation to christian culture, its dissolution and the effects of this as being akin to the dull-lit luminous qualities of the twilight half-hour when the sun has only just set but the land retains enough light for it to be possible to see; we are, out of habit repeating these moral behaviours, but once the origin of why exactly we were forced seemingly stubbornly to learn things which did not make sense and later turned out to be *questionable* from the critically thinking stance of the adult mind; these processes become seemingly unnecessary. but this is the main point:

      how would you have learned to thought critically if you first did not have something to dissent from?

      it is all well and good from our adult perspectives being angry at ourselves that our infant selves fell for the whole charade of religious halls, tones, homilies, etc but you forget that without that linear passage through time learning all along the while that through the church being up-rooted and replaced and the *origins* of those same ideas being taught as platitudinous evolutionary descent that can not directly be demonstrated but merely one requires a *faith* that science has covered this gap; a trap opens up before these proto-minds.

      how do you dissent from the norm and the status quo when you’ve never allowed the variance of your own experience to vie outside of its extents?

      “In neither case does it fill me with enthusiasm for the process, just as threatening children with dire consequences fails to teach them anything about rightness, just obedience.”

      you need to teach children obedience because they have not yet developed their own attuned sense of right-vs-wrong (they’ve not been around to long enough). this too makes evolutionary sense:- there were SO MANY things that would have killed children such that blind obedience makes complete logical sense from an infant. if every kid came out a mini-satre then the human experiment would have promptly ended millennia ago.

      “it must be because they have found sufficient testable evidence of the existence of the God”

      this is your good reason to believe in god, or really the “threshold in which i will drop my personal preferences i have accrued”, not *the* good reason. i know this because i’m an agnostic and i’ve argued all of this from the ambivalent perspective that i can’t know the answer on this matter and so both sides hold merit; however i do understand the origins of behaviours and their spread.

      “the default requirement is for the proof to be provided, and “well how else did it all get here?” doesn’t count.”

      until atheists have a counter to *well this certainly all does exist* according to the scientific method this reasoning stands until something else can counter it. one of the most obscure questions to me is “if anything at all, why this particular anything?”. as the words were said they were counted. if you have a rebuttal then make one but if all you have is objection without rebuttal then i’ll have to remind you that such is not a refutation of the point.

      “Our system of law is based on no lesser principles and it would seen odd for disputes between humans to be resolved on untestable convictions”

      courts pass at a pace and a duration that is conducive to finding human truths in due time.
      the universe nor truth do not adhere to those constraints.

      “just as we would never now accept as explanations for bizarre or dangerous behaviour the same excuses recounted in the Bible”

      >THINGS ACCOUNTED FOR 2000 YEARS AGO ARE INADMISSIBLE AS EVIDENCE

      • Bogbrush

        Long winded, but without any logical value. My personal favourite is the attempt to suggest that failure to prove non-existence means the hypothesis of God must stand.

        Yes, and Santa too by that standard.

        To be fair, you make a correct point about children even if you didn’t understand my point. I didn’t say we shouldn’t require obedience from children, just that it didn’t equal understanding rightness. Are you suggesting threatening grown adults with eternal torment to make them behave is a responsible substitute for maturity?

        • chebstop larrig

          “Long winded, but without any logical value.”

          this is a good sentence because you manage to make an ironic point and a distinction between you and myself by keeping the sentence short-winded. pretty insipid but that’s what i’ve come to expect from the internet.

          “My personal favourite is the attempt to suggest that failure to prove non-existence means the hypothesis of God must stand.”

          it means that the existence of god passes as another thing that has not been disproven among all those other things not disproven; which counters perfectly against the weight of the claim that it doesn’t exist.

          “Yes, and Santa too by that standard.”

          santa is fictional in origin and does not come with an encylopedia of a history of philosophical reasoning and teaching, nor is “santa” considered a being with exceptional and non-definable powers twinned with the context of the origins of being. if you can find something else that is then perhaps you and ricky gervais can for a moment feel what it is to make an intelligent remark.

          “I didn’t say we shouldn’t require obedience from children, just that it didn’t equal understanding rightness.”

          doesn’t equal wrongness so your point is self-defeating, or nothing or you know, just not a point.

          “Are you suggesting threatening grown adults with eternal torment to make them behave is a responsible substitute for maturity?”

          are you suggesting people are born adults?

          • blingmun

            Oh get a room you too 😉

  • Bogbrush

    Why would it amaze anyone that libertarians want the State out of marriage? Isn’t the very essence of libertarianism that they want the State’s nose out of any aspect of their lives?

    Marriage can exist perfectly fine on it’s own merits as a model of family life. To me it is a deep promise to a mate for fidelity and loyalty, made publicly for strength and recognition. Who needs a State involved in that?

    The problem with the breakdown of family life is nothing to do with the stuff Peter Hitchens goes on about, it is about the insidious lies put about that long term partnering of men and women is no better for children than looser arrangements. Once again, rationality wins over all, the problem comes when people are trained otherwise.

    • chebstop larrig

      “The problem with the breakdown of family life is nothing to do with the decline of religion. I agree with much of what Peter Hitchens goes on about, it is about the insidious lies put about that long term partnering of men and women is no better for children than looser arrangements.”

      the problem with this point is that in the details it counters itself. with a strong sense of religious obligation / morality your latter point dissolves itself / becomes unenforceable. in theory one should not require religion to make that tie but such is idealism without as peter suggests a strong state to take the place of that thing; and of course with such a state comes with it all manner of other problems which reduce the denizen’s humanity / ability to freely think and choose their own thoughts and solutions.

      • Bogbrush

        Not at all, my whole point is that forcing irrational ways to compel obedience actively u derives responsibility.

        It, in simple language, without State or Church people would form productive relationships. Being told all relationships are all equally productive (as the State does) is a lie, while telling them it’s because God says so is undermined once people work out God doesn’t exist.

        • chebstop larrig

          “without State or Church people would form productive relationships.”

          people whom have a strong memory of what marriage once was and what they’re fighting for.

          *people* in 100 years will have an education of the same but not be directly FROM those forces that have us understanding what should be our own and what we should be allowed to control.

          people WOULD FORM PRODUCTIVE MARRIAGES

          and then people would form productive mutual bonds

          and then people will commercialise themselves

          and then we will be cattle

          • Bogbrush

            Yeah, I guess plenty of animals form monogamous lifetime bonds because God told them to.

          • chebstop larrig

            animals don’t misinterpret data and tell themselves they can be independent beings.

            they also don’t form societies to then dissolve those societies through misunderstanding of how those societies originated and through what concepts those societies were floated upon and therefore reliant on as a catalyst.

        • chebstop larrig

          “Being told all relationships are all equally productive (as the State does) is a lie, while telling them it’s because God says so is undermined once people work out God doesn’t exist.”

          i don’t know what you mean by this productive point. why should relationships factor in productivity?

          relationships are two people *each to their own*-ing together. what they do is surely their own business?

          • Bogbrush

            Productive in terms of producing viable offspring capable of doing the same thing. The one and only reason we organisms exist, so pretty much the ruling definition of ‘productive’.

          • chebstop larrig

            “Productive in terms of producing viable offspring capable of doing the same thing”

            genetics as a machine has this game in mind. you are not a machine, nor i hopefully assume are you a eugenicist

            so why does this point matter when nature resolves itself on that front?

            “The one and only reason we organisms exist, so pretty much the ruling definition of ‘productive’.”

            this is circular reasoning. we don’t exist necessarily because we’re GOOD AT existing or GOOD AT copying ourselves. at that point “GOOD AT” becomes an arbitrary distinction. we’re certainly here but how much credit we can hand ourselves for that or how good an arbiter we can be of our own coming into being is not measurable, demonstrable or definable.

    • Stephen T

      I think the problem with marriage is the rules are increasingly rigged against men. If things go wrong, you’ll almost certainly lose your house, children and part of your pension. You then have to pay to maintain your old home and fund a new (inferior) one. And the disproportionate financial contribution you’ve made is legally irrelevant. It’s a system designed in every way to favour women, but it’s hurting them as men increasingly say no to marriage and avoid commitment and having children. Until the balance is more equal I think men will behave increasingly behave rationally and regard marriage as too big a risk. I regret this. Society needs decent young people to get married and have children, but could you truly advise a son to take the risk in a game where all the rules are against him? We need to rebalance the situation if the trend is to be reversed.

      • Bogbrush

        Broadly I agree. I can hardly say otherwise as I intend to let my kids have access to housing without them having title for precisely this reason.

  • Demon Teddy Bear

    Peter is right; but he mistakes what we see on TV for what is actually going on in the nation. Every year there are more and more Christians.

    • Jingleballix

      Read some Theodore Dalrymple…….some of his views/tales from his times as a prison doc illustrate the origins of of Peter Hitchens’s foreboding.

      Then there’s this…….

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/12187717/Snapchat-killer-suspect-I-first-took-drugs-aged-11.html

      ………it’s Hogarthian.

      • Demon Teddy Bear

        Hogarth is a good thought, and it is v Hogarthian. But the 18th century rise of Methodism cured that sort of problem. The equally strongly opposed rise of Christianity in Britain today will do the same. God has not yet abandoned England.

  • Nick Booth

    I try to read everything Peter Hitchens writes as it’s always an education.

    If I do have one criticism it’s that he gives the impression that all hope is lost and we’re all damned.

    There must be something constructive we can do. Mind you, I’ll be buggered if I’m going back to catholic church again.

    • Bogbrush

      So long as you don’t rejoin the boys choir you should be ok.

    • twinscrew

      I see what you did there.

  • Stephen T

    Peter Hitchens is always interesting and I love to see him poke the comfortable consensus.
    However, people like Peter who believe in God don’t seem to understand those of us without it. When I go for a walk I take a bag and fill it with other people’s litter. I do this not because of any faith in, or fear of, God, but because the world is a pleasanter place without litter and I’m doing a little bit to help. I don’t need to believe in God to make moral decisions, although I freely accept that my idea of right and wrong has been influenced by Christianity. Doing the right thing because you think it’s right is surely better than doing it because you fear punishment from God.

    • Bogbrush

      Actually, the Christian idea of right and wrong is derived from your innate sense of rightness, which in turn is a great reproductive strategy.

      I’m nit-picking though, I quite agree with you.

    • Busy Mum

      If the world is a pleasanter place without litter (and I agree with you)…..why is there so much of it about?
      It must be because either, many other people disagree with you and think litter looks nice, or else many people have neither the time nor the energy nor the moral compulsion to pick it up. Why are they all doing the ‘wrong’ thing? and how do you know you are ‘right’?

      • Stephen T

        Busy Mum, dropping litter seems to be seen by many as trivial, but many loathe it. I don’t think anyone thinks it’s good, but it’s easy to be lazy and selfish.
        I remember my privately-educated, privileged wife sticking an empty packet of crisps into a dry-stone wall. This working class boy was appalled. Small incivilities committed by many add up to a worse place to live. I know that litter attracts more litter. If no one cares and it’s a mess anyway, why bother? I pick litter up because it’s a small attempt to leave things better and it has a practical side in that clean areas are better respected. I walk in the Yorkshire Dales and 99% of people do the right thing. I still easily fill a bag with litter and the place is slightly the better for it.

        • Busy Mum

          Please don’t think I am criticising your very good attitude towards litter-picking. I was just drawing attention to the fact that you are very clear in your ‘beliefs’ as to what looks nice and what is the ‘right’ thing to do….., neither of which carry any weight nowadays!

          • Stephen T

            No, I don’t think you’re criticising me. If you’re in a badly littered city it’s easy to think no one cares. Yet litter is one of the most common complaints, so I think many do care, but in some places the fight seems to be lost. However, my last walk was in Malham, part of the Dales National Park. It receives thousands of visitors, including many school children. In one sense it’s sad that a few people will go there and drop litter, but, on the other hand, it’s remarkably few. It would be unacceptable for most people who visit. Litter attracts more litter, so I clean up in front of my house and it generally stays clean. When people give up, the decline accelerates. I don’t clean up when I’m in a city, because the fight is unequal, but I do in the countryside because most people seem to be on my side. It’s just a personal thing. Instead of making things worse, I’m making them a tiny bit better. I wish more walkers would put a bag in their rucksack! I suppose my attitude is that you can be helping or adding to the problem.

    • If I may just butt in here..

      The ability to be a good citizen has absolutely nothing to do with religion. I have spent quite a while working in religiously-directed schools, and they thought this too. The failures are, I believe, due to lack of good leadership. The politicians are now almost universally a bunch of self-interested fraudsters, and the media haven’t the slightest interest in balance or truth if it doesn’t suit their personal politics or profits.

    • Peter C,

      You make not outwardly or inwardly acknowledge the existence of God as you choose, personally, to be a moral person and do the ‘right thing’ – but this does not discount His existence. Objective morality originates from a consciousness which is quite separate from humanity. And history clearly demonstrates that when a culture does acknowledge such a consciousness and accepts the existence of God, the greater will be the proportion of its citizens who will strive to live moral lives. The example of the litter bug provides a simple but suitable example.

    • Malcolm Marchesi

      I think you make a good point about the motive for doing the right thing , but I would suggest that the basis of Christian society and it’s beliefs is by far the kindest and also the most successful set of values of any of the great civilisations which the world has experienced . The careless dismantling of these rules and beliefs by foolish pseudo intellectual people ( large sections of the teaching establishment ) who are encouraged by other people who are not foolish but instead have a clear idea of what they want ( various commercial and industrial interests plus of course some of our political leaders ) will almost certainly bring about a catastrophe to the cause of human happiness . I personally understand the views of people who don’t believe in God even though I disagree with them but I also find it interesting that you accept that your idea of right and wrong has been influenced by Christianity . Perhaps one day you will come to believe that it’s not God’s punishments that we need to fear but the consequences of our own wilfull foolishness >

      • Stephen T

        Malcolm, I’m with Clement Atlee, who said, “I believe in the ethics of Christianity; I can’t believe the mumbo-jumbo.” I suppose I took in some of the principles whilst rejecting the faith. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a good guide to life.
        I accept that there’s a good side to Christianity, but there’s a bloody and nasty side to its history. Look at the cruelty and abuse in Ireland as recently as the 1980s.

        • Malcolm Marchesi

          Again , I agree with much of what you say .However, Is it not possible to accept the plus side of the belief and reject the minus side , which after all , is completely different . Also it’s worth pointing out that the practice of a faith has been an individual thing and there is no question that those who have abused their position within the Christian faith have acted in complete denial of it’s tenets .

  • Mark Gullick

    Mr. Hitchens is a cry in the wilderness, a voice of elegant reason amid a pathetic, floundering country. As for emigrating, I have already moved to Costa Rica.

    • mrt harris

      Well he might come over to you and me like that but to others he speaking Chinese.

      • Johnnymcevoy

        Are you still self imploded? LOL

  • Garbie

    But isn’t this the “Great Plan” Break up Family life and Religion and make us all Surfs again.

  • twinscrew

    I commented on the Express site this morning saying I would emigrate to Russia if we stay in the EU as I feel that this Country is becoming too in thrall to islamification, I would trust Putin to have my back as opposed to Davy boy who has even suggested a certain muslim to become PM, also the threat of Turkey becoming a EU member appals me.
    The post was not allowed for some reason. go figure.

    • Stephen T

      Try voicing your opinion in Russia, if Putin’s happens not to agree. You won’t be around or free for long.

  • For queen and country

    Gotta love Peter’s provocative comments! Ive especially had time for Peter’s opinions after his performance against Russel Brand, the ‘alleged comedian’, on a BBC interview. More so, when Brand, the ‘alleged comedian’ attempted to get the interview piece dropped from a recent docementary about him (Brand). Anyway, I left the UK in 1981 for canada and while we have our problems it seems to be eclisped by the deterioration I see each time I am ‘back home’ for a visit. EXCATLY as described as Peter.

    • Quattrovalvole

      How did Canada compare when you left the UK, and how have they changed relatively since? Is the UK *that* bad when compared to Canada and other countries in the Anglosphere?

      • Stephen T

        Canadian universities seem to be competing with those in America for lunacy of every type. See Janice Fiamengo on YouTube. She’s an English lecturer and brave opponent of the madness of extreme feminism on campus.

      • For queen and country

        Re: “How did Canada compare when you left the
        UK” – Canada immediately presented me with space,
        cleanliness, a polite civic minded people, an ease with which you could get
        ‘stuff’ and more importantly ‘opportunities’. I advised my kids that to succeed
        in Canada you just needed to “show up”, to really succeed add initiative and
        look to make yourself indispensible

        I would notice each time I travelled home (every 2 years or so) general changes that seemed to reflect the ‘mood’ of the country especially the immediate impressions from the trip into London from Heathrow to my parent’s in Battersea – examples, how tidy and ‘fixed up’ the houses and streets seemed, the numbers and types of cars people drove, the amount of graffiti or ‘To let’ signs, the volume of litter in the streets. Some years everything looked ‘fresh’, other years run-down.

        Re: “…and how have they changed relatively since?”
        Canada has become closer to the ‘political correctness’ of the UK and Europe but still has the space, cleanliness, politeness, opportunities, etc. It’s still easy to “get on” here.

        Re: “Is the UK *that* bad when compared to Canada and other countries in the Anglosphere?” I can’t comment on Australia or NZ but yes the UK is bad. Noticeably: ruder and more belligerent youngsters/youth toward officials (bus drivers, train ticket collectors), groups of “non locals” roaming the streets with back-packs and, like something out of a Gustave Dore print, beggars in the streets (!). Lol, hate to say this but get out while you can.

  • therealguyfaux ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    Matt ch 6:
    2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honoured by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you…”

    Seems to me that virtue-signalling is no new phenomenon, is it?

    • Ryan O

      No way.
      Men have always sought means to gain the approval of others, especially when this approval can be cheaply bought.
      Drives me nuts watching the Bern-outs squee over “socialism”

  • mrt harris

    I advise my kid in they early 20 ts to leave the UK.
    For different reasons. I was born in the north east . Left school at 15 into heavy industry shipbuilding.. My first choice I wanted to design cloths but was told that’s only for rich people. Good advice I am 60 now and understand what these educated people ment. I was from a white collar back ground . So the shipbuilding but me in an involvement with different people that I was used too. I was back breaking work but over the years I hardened to it . I left when I was 20. In them years of training .I hays two other part time jobs in sales bought my first car 17 bought my first house 23 paid mogauge of by 29.. I have traveled the world. I have lived with some of the richest people on the planet. I’never Santa Barbra Santa Monica marbella.. I went self imploded 30 years old first business American grill bar out of that 2 years made a lot of money on sale. My first 2 years holiday to the usa Then my next business and so on my life went. I did not want to be a multi millionaire .I just wanted a life and fast money fast places and fast women ha ha. That was the opportunity that every body had in this country to better them selves. I lot of my friends did well and two of them come higher than the Queen on the rich list not bad for lads from Middlesbrough yes the arshole off britian. If that’s what lads could achieve from blue collar towns. This story was the story of britian but not any more.Britian does not offer the young opertunities anymore. 3 off my kids listen to the goverment and the rubbish the fill young girls heads with you can have it girl power .We’ll after on daughter finished Edinburgh uni. I got a feminist Marxist that I can’t not reason with. Thing have improved slightly after 2 years bloody slum clearance Shoreditch up coming pull the other on. Try Berlin and you see what’s up coming. The point I am trying to make is britian has nothing to offer this young people any more. If your a young man you got no chance..We are not best person for the job . It’s gender driven is not good for work class people. It creates job for the boy and girls if your in the loop. We britian is about to be swallowed up by Europe. The country is loosing it’s capitalist status and become Marxist feminist socalist . I lived in rottecapitalist in side for truss europe

    • Johnnymcevoy

      Shame you can’t write even simple English. Embarrassing.

    • HenryWood

      My goodness! Just think what you could have done in your life if you had gone to school.

  • thomas_paine2

    Emigrate, yes. California is the place to be, no doubt.

    • chebstop larrig

      why would anyone opt to jump out of the urinal and into the toilet?

    • michaelsavell

      Vietnam is one of the best places now.

  • cjcjc

    Self-styled “supporters” of marriage are consistently shooting themselves in the foot by vehement opposition to same-sex marriage. Why not join forces with pro-marriage and conservative gays? There are plenty of them. The current generation will never be attracted to an institution which (if some had their way) would exclude their gay friends and family members.

    • chebstop larrig

      peter isn’t one of those so this is a non-point.

      “Why not join forces with pro-marriage and conservative gays? ”

      because that makes a red herring of the issue

      “The current generation will never be attracted to an institution which (if some had their way) would exclude their gay friends and family members.”

      it doesn’t “exclude”. it is a service orthogonal to those needs of homosexuals. that’s like getting upset that not everyone loses their foreskin just because jews do it. gay people are not excluded from straight marriages.

      • cjcjc

        I understand the mathematical term “orthogonal” but not in this context, clever though it sounds.

    • Bogbrush

      Because they want to follow the rules written down by ancient Hebrews.

      • chebstop larrig

        DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMN that told them

        they seem so outdated now

        they SQUARES

    • James60498 .

      Because making a nonsense out of marriage isn’t going to save it.

      • cjcjc

        You make my point perfectly for me.

        • David

          why isn’t it enough for gays to have secular same-sex marriage?

          what is the reason that religious ssm must be accepted as well?

          In Christianity gay sex is a sin. To tell gays otherwise is a lie. And to call that homophobia in order to pressure churches to accept the lie is really, to me, a clear indication that the motive to put that pressure on is to attack Christianity, meaning that the people pushing for ssm in Christianity know it does not make sense. And in fact there is one lesbian activist who will openly admit this:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9M0xcs2Vw4

  • Politically__Incorrect

    It is a while since I read “The Rage Against God” but I do remember it as an excellent book. I also remember discussing it with my wife who, as a child in the latter days of the Soviet Union, explained to me how the Soviet Authorities actively encouraged children to ridicule anybody with religious beliefs. Going back further in time, one of her relatives had been a priest who was murdered by the KGB after the revolution. Her grandfather had been a farmer who had all his land and property appropriated by the state. In his misery and desperation he hung himself. So much for the joys of an atheist political system.

    Christianity is flourishing in modern day Russia and has shown itself far more resilient than the system that tried to exterminate it. Sadly we still have places like North Korea where merely saying the word “Jesus” is almost certain to result in the death penalty. NK is an example of a state where man is his own god, with all the misery and catastrophe that brings. I hope this nation won’t go as far as the NK basket case, but I do believe that we are in state of decline as we embrace moral relativism, and we certainly haven’t reached the bottom yet.

  • Nockian

    There is the existence of the false alternative between Peter and Christopher, both are Mystics. One of spirit and the other of muscle.

    Christianity was a kind of moral guide, but not a good one, it still relied on the idea that man was incapable of good without spiritual guidance. The same is true of the Mystics of muscle who employ the idea ‘might makes right’ through the force of the state to provide ethical guidance at the end of a club. I can see why Peter sees religion as the kinder option as it does not begin with a monopoly of violence-as does the state.

    The better option is a small state, acting purely to uphold the law objectively. To have no involvement in anything but the preservation of freedom first and law second. Instead of religion schools should concentrate on teaching students to reason properly and logically.

    • chebstop larrig

      “Instead of religion schools should concentrate on teaching students to reason properly and logically.”

      why instead of?

      • Nockian

        I was considering Peters natural bent towards a retrenching in religious tuition as a means of providing a natural counter to the heavy hand of statism. I can see that he would find perhaps find this an attractive method of teaching reason/logic in the fashion of the Jesuits/Catholics. The downside is that it teaches the why, before the what and institutes spiritual mysticism before objectivity. Any school of course, should be able to teach what it like, how it likes as long as parents are paying the bill.

        The problem with mysticism is that it devolves. It puts man to the side of God, or state and not central to his own survival through reason. It means that spiritual Mystics are want to slide into muscle mysticism-it’s an easy swap of God for State if the religious fairy stories don’t inspire. This seems to be what occurred with Peter. He simply swapped one kind of mysticism for the open door of another.

        • chebstop larrig

          “The downside is that it teaches the why, before the what and institutes spiritual mysticism before objectivity.”

          i see no downside in this. the intelligent always do learn better and those who don’t live regardless by a system that benefits them as people at large, all the while those that learn the whys from the whats have been endowed with a system of morality in the process and doubtless multiple situations throughout their lives were made the easier because of it.

          it’s a white lie that far too many spend their rebellious periods decrying and go on into their adulthood still openly attempt to justify having done so.

          “The problem with mysticism is that it devolves.”

          this is a nice claim but it’s abstract. the people following it devolve? the individuals or the mass of the people? the quality of the teaching devolves? does it devolve in a lifetime, or is it a salami-slice degradation?

          “It puts man to the side of God, or state and not central to his own survival through reason”

          you forget that emotions evolved; and because they evolved and we didn’t drop them they’re systems we NEEDED. they’re systems of innate reasoning. to ignore them is to ignore REASON. natural selection was a process of whittling down what makes the most reasonable sense in organic form and out of the other end came these chemical shortcuts which allowed for reasonable degrees of survival without having to be pure arbiters of causatory process.

          if we were born alone to fend from square one using only *pure abstract reason* none of us would survive very long. to see emotion as a mistake is to make a grave mistake. peter does not make this error and he ports that need for emotional response through the emotional belief that this world/plane/extended moment amounts to a rounded greater moral conclusion. he gets his fill for that part of his mind that requires it and does not strangle it or deny it oxygen, nor does he look for modern alternatives to fill the gap; he understands therefore necessarily that evolution is, did and evolved.

          to decide that stubborn will could and can fight against our chemical systems, that insistence in numbers can fill that hole is the mistake of this century and will be the west’s end; to insist that we could and can know everything in purely abstract terms is to deny the size of our minds and the process that informed this ongoing evolution of minds.

          • Nockian

            Spiritual mysticism has been the cause of some rather nasty violence through the years even in Christian form. It only considers reason in its support of Itself, which still puts man in hoc to God. There is no such thing as God, so why go and add a conceptual fairy tale to knowledge ? The result will always be distortion, just as it is in any hierachical knowledge build up that includes evasion.

            It’s capable of devolving and it does so. Any trawl through a list of philosophers reveals the lapsed Catholic who has given up religion with the passion of an ex smoker. Forums are full of new agers who have turned away from their faith. No religious person can defend their faith without slipping into subjectivism. However, I’m not really interested in being an advocate for the atheist movement, I see them as equivalent in all but minor aspects.

            Emotion isn’t reason. It’s a reaction to thoughts about something- either subconscious or fully conscious of the underpinning cognitive activity. They are certainly a necessary part of us in all respects, but they are not a good guide to rational thinking.

            Neither do I say ‘we can know everything’ we can only know what we can know at any one time, we are not omniscient. We can add to it by expanding our scope of experience and improving the way in which we integrate abstract concepts.

            I don’t hold with ‘abstract’ reason. Reason is a corollary to the axiom of existence, consciousness and identity. It isn’t an abstract, it’s how we learn everything we learn, our value judgements and emotional responses to our precepts. It is the reason why we survive and the only way we can.

          • chebstop larrig

            “Spiritual mysticism has been the cause of some rather nasty violence through the years even in Christian form.”

            people with an inclination to violence are the cause of violence.
            put your brush away.

            “It only considers reason in its support of Itself”

            as all do

            “which still puts man in hoc to God”

            the trinity does not suggest such

            “There is no such thing as God, so why go and add a conceptual fairy tale to knowledge ?”

            bare assertion / again fairy tales are of a very different philosophical origin than concepts of gods

            “The result will always be distortion, just as it is in any hierachical knowledge build up that includes evasion.”

            you’re conflating the belief and the church

            “It’s capable of devolving and it does so”

            cool assertion. anyone is capable of devolving.

            “Any trawl through a list of philosophers reveals the lapsed Catholic who has given up religion with the passion of an ex smoker.”

            this is an argument that can’t be made. the further you trawl the more variables should and need to be taken into account to make any viable comparison at all.

            “Forums are full of new agers who have turned away from their faith.”

            and the most modern thing is not necessarily the most successful or correct

            “No religious person can defend their faith without slipping into subjectivism”

            and no human person can truly make an objective statement and know it to be true

            “However, I’m not really interested in being an advocate for the atheist movement, I see them as equivalent in all but minor aspects.”

            strange given the number of assertions you just made. perhaps you’re attempting to distance yourself from the paradox you’re creating here.

            “Emotion isn’t reason.”

            it’s nice that you think that

            “It’s a reaction to thoughts about something- either subconscious or fully conscious of the underpinning cognitive activity.”

            a reaction in what?

            “They are certainly a necessary part of us in all respects, but they are not a good guide to rational thinking.”

            hahah this mode of thinking. so rigid. feelings are thoughts and the more you deny them the worse you’ll feel for it later. to say they’re irrational and to deny them is to turn yourself into a strange creature that denies himself his essential desires.

            they never were “the guide”, but they do help waft you the way you truly wanted to head.

            “Neither do I say ‘we can know everything’ we can only know what we can know at any one time, we are not omniscient.”

            yet you make quite a few bare assertions in this post alone which suggest you believe there are objective answers and that you personally know some of them.

            “We can add to it by expanding our scope of experience and improving the way in which we integrate abstract concepts.”

            add to what? where does it go?

            “I don’t hold with ‘abstract’ reason. Reason is a corollary to the axiom of existence, consciousness and identity. It isn’t an abstract, it’s how we learn everything we learn, our value judgements and emotional responses to our precepts.”

            everything is abstract to the objective large.

            >”Reason is a corollary to the axiom of existence, consciousness and identity.”

            is there a word that signifies when a sentence doesn’t mean anything? you’ve identified that feedback loops exist?

            “how we learn everything we learn”

            what have we learned?*

            (do not answer facetiously*)

            “It is the reason why we survive and the only way we can.”

            reason is the reason?

            >banging head

            i hate it when people just start defining things in the BBC style ‘tone’ when they don’t have actual replies to exactly what is said.

          • Nockian

            I would love to carry on the discussion, but not here. It would require I take every single point and expand it greatly to show the base on which it rests. It can be done, but would be too long for a forum.

    • Rhys Pilko

      ey seems like we’v got an objectivist

      • Nockian

        Ey 🙂

      • chebstop larrig

        you spelled autist incorrectly

    • William Kirk

      You obviously think that you are capable of objective thought but I don’t think you really understood the article

      • Nockian

        Oh I most certainly did.

        Conservatives bemoan the loss of their precious Christian religion which they explicitly believe is the foundation stone of Western civilisation. So, Peter tells everyone to run away from the apocalypse, which, ironically is the corollary of the mysticism he continues to believe in.

  • Gimme Some Fightin’ Room

    Peter Hitchens is one of my favourite writers – good interview Laura.

  • James60498 .

    Twenty five years or so ago, relatively young and very much subject to parental oversight/ thumb I expressed a wish to spend a year in Australia, which I certainly hoped might become permanent.
    My parents both knew that from the age of 13 I had been interested in Australia but my mother made it clear that they weren’t going to help me at any point, to go, or if I came back. I stayed.

    Fifteen years later, a new lady joined the company and she and I were two of the three executive directors. She told me some time later that she and her husband had told, many years previously, her mother in law that they were considering moving to Australia. She too got stroppy saying that if “you go I won’t have a son”. They stayed.

    Amazing coincidence I guess that.

    My sons are both teenagers now. But they have already been told that should they wish to emigrate that provided that they have thought it out and have a plan, I will absolutely support them. I have of course volunteered to join them.

    I can see no reason whatsoever to stay. The fact that anyone would think that Peter Hitchens is joking when he advises them to leave just shows how deluded many British people are

  • perdix

    Let’s hope that Peter Hitchens emigrates and ceases to bother us with his rantings.

    • chebstop larrig

      i hate it when people remind me of the things i attempt to forget every day

    • weirdvisions

      Let’s hope you’ll carry his bags and spare us yours.

      • chebstop larrig

        you can’t call a short attention seeking ironic statement a ranting

        more just the aged person’s version of a child’s whining

        • weirdvisions

          Agreed. Put it down to me having a frustrating day :0)

  • David

    How is it that there is such strong move among some Christian churches to claim that gay sex is not a sin? If the religion is actually taken seriously by the people claiming this, they ought to be reluctant to mislead gays – so why aren’t they? Why are they deceiving gays this way?

    • chebstop larrig

      multural carxism

      • David

        so you’d say the people pushing the lie consciously reject Christianity but claim to be adherents in order to do their malice?

        • Ridcully

          I can’t think of a better explanation.

        • chebstop larrig

          a church that seems to have two minds about itself can not be trusted to be the pillar stone of a community; death by apparent PR modernisation but really a covert action taken intentionally or by useful idiots who can be nudged in the right direction

          does make sense

          • David

            does Anglicanism specifically have state pressure on it to remove what is claimed (falsely) to be homophobic beliefs, because it has a position tied in with the state? I guess what I’m asking (if you know), does the Anglican Church have to choose either to pretend gay sex isn’t a sin, or lose those state ties and being completely separated from the British government, which, I think, would be a drastic loss of influence for the Church?

          • chebstop larrig

            it’s likely. at that point i’d stop differentiating between the church and the state and just start calling all of this mess “the state” and these bishops doing this specific opportunist bidding merely politicians outfitted to perform homilies.

            a church by definition sticks to its dogma and its guns; a “church” that revises and modernises its script is a political / PR entity and so the public’s attitude toward that entity would shift as a result of these changes into a mode of distrust as is offered towards all auto-compromising opportunistically yielding politicians and so the purpose of the church (whole) is eroded by the bane of relativism; everything has a price, even holy men.

            when this logic snowballs into the minds of the public it bleeds out everywhere. it makes a lot of sense for those presiding over this totalitarian state to destroy the apparent virtue of saintly men. if we are all merely 2 steps away from our own downfall then there is no sanctity of hope left for us to put all of our eggs into.

            in this way the influence of the church was over long ago, and the influence gained by those posing as church men is equal to those politicians too helping to lay out this specific narrative. a church filled with politicians in holy robes is not a church so much as a red herring designed to make the gullible (the british public) believe that spirituality is a contradiction and impossibly out of reach in 2016.

            being tied to a state whose aim is to reduce people into animal-like states is not a set of influences gained which a truly spiritual establishment can benefit from; but those politically motivated can indeed “benefit” (hard to say they gain much when they’re passively ruining the fabric of community in exchange for whatever salary) from this re-branding of conservative modes of thinking.

    • Jolly Roger

      Having heard sermons from pulpits of the Church of England in favour of gay marriage, abortion on demand, and eurocommunism (the one in favour of gay marriage was received by a large proportion of the under-30s in the congregation with cheers, clapping and hoots of approval) I can only conclude that the clergy and many of the laity have mistakenly taken the alternative secular morality that passes under the designation of left-liberalism for an expression of the tenets of the Christian faith. They think that they must be inclusive, non-judgemental, value a woman’s right to choose, etc,etc.

      However, as it’s not my business to judge Another’s servant, I don’t doubt the faith of these people. I take them at their profession. Most wouldn’t know, as Mr Hitchen’s has pointed out in respect of certain Conservative politicians, that what they are peddling is really Gramscian social revolution (though I suspect that the clergyman who harangued the congregation in favour of gay marriage probably did know. And bear in mind that this ‘sermon’ was preached in the presence of Him who declared marriage to be between two people of different sexes).

      There’s no indication that any of these people consciously or unconsciously reject the Saviour. At worse, some may have a somewhat different Christ than the one preached (as St Paul said might be possible). Paul did describe the characteristics of Christian congregations in the last days, in the formidable seasons (plural, note), in his last letter to Timothy. Are some of these Christians, especially the ones who preached the sermons I refer to, among them?

  • Jolly Roger

    It’s always a pleasure to hear Mr Hitchens speak. His answers go straight to the heart of the matter. One can learn a lot about politics by regularly paying attention to his unique insights. He obviously has thought deeply about Christianity and its implications on developments in society. Mr Hitchens is certainly right that human nature cannot be changed. It can only be defaced; and there are many examples of that all around us.

    In C S Lewis’ Narnia story, The Last Battle, the Dwarfs were going to be marched off to the salt mines of Pugharan, and would indeed have died there, but are rescued by the king and the children. However, the Dwarfs have been conned – taken in – so many times that they stick to their line of ‘the Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs’ – no king and no Aslan – and so refuse to be fully taken in to the eternal Narnia. They make themselves unable to hear Aslan, despite – significantly – remaining in the stable. Aslan shows the children both what he can do and what he cannot do for the Dwarfs, providing them with a rich banquet. But the Dwarfs are at first suspicious and then squabble over the food. They have rehearsed their suspicions about Aslan for so long that they think they are in a dark stable and cannot see that they are in the daylight of his eternal paradise (though with one exception to illustrate the contrast).

    The captivity the Dwarfs remain in is of their own making. So while this passage in Lewis’ story is about people accepting as liberation what is in effect slavery, it is self slavery and not an externally imposed totalitarian kind that Mr Hitchens is discussing. Self slavery is where any act terminates in the self and not Christ (or in Lewis’ story, in Aslan). This is why God’s service is perfect freedom, and which is one of the things Lewis is illustrating in The Last Battle.

    If there is a closer analogy with totalitarianism in Lewis’ stories it would be in respect of the activities of the Green Witch in The Silver Chair. Lewis may have intended her Under Earthmen to represent the bewitched proletariat. Until her spell is broken they toil miserably and humourlessly, reciting the ‘party line’ about none returning to the sunlit lands, and are at her direction to overthrow Narnia’s rightful leaders. But there is also a lot of Plato in Lewis’ arrangement of his characters being in a dark cave.

    • “Clement Atlee may have thought that it was possible to have the morality of Christianity without the ‘mumbo jumbo'”

      If so, he was stupid. Morals always come from a creed or philosophy.

  • JB

    Of all the diminishing options left to those cognizant of the growing totalitarian state, emigrating probably is the best remaining course of action (for those with the means to do so). Canada,
    Australia, New Zealand, and, possibly, the US, being the obvious ‘choices’. But as these nations are also busily, throwing away their sovereignty (by signing the TPP), and surrendering to state enforced PC thought control, emigrants may just be delaying the inevitable, and choosing a nicer hill on which to make their last stand.

    • chebstop larrig

      this is my sentiment exactly; give or take my inability to finance an emigration outright.

      i’d move if only to postpone that great last toilet flush and to attune myself to another place’s cultural and social suicide.

  • John Andrews

    Hitchens, with whom I often agree, neglects (1) the difference between agnostic and atheist, (2) the lack of evidence for Christianity, (3) the competing claims of other religions. One religion believes in sacrificial offerings; another believes in virgin birth.

    • chebstop larrig

      “Hitchens, with whom I often agree, neglects (1) the difference between agnostic and atheist”

      where and how?

      “the lack of evidence for Christianity”

      where and how? what evidence is there for the absence of a christian god?

      ” the competing claims of other religions.”

      where and how? one does not need to reconcile all religions’ claims in order to take on one religion for one’s self. not everyone judges themselves to the point that they’re incapable of physically living.

      “One religion believes in sacrificial offerings; another believes in virgin birth.”

      so what?

      • John Andrews

        I’d like to answer your questions but they do not make sense.

        • chebstop larrig

          it seems you formed your first comment in the english language so how are you having difficulty reading more of the english language?

          do you have some sort of selective vision / comprehensive capacities when it comes to replying to things whose true replies highlight ignorance in your original comment?

          (rhetorical question:- i have dealt with “adults” before)

        • chebstop larrig

          here let me assist you:

          when those who would like their points to be lent degrees of credibility make an assertion, it follows that they meet such assertions with demonstrations in evidence. this evidence can then be discussed and analysed to discover to what degree (as acknowledged by multiple people) levels of truth can be ascribed from these statements.

          without this one is merely playing the petulant british “because i said so” adult game and one is not demonstrating anything other than perhaps an early arrested development.

          • John Andrews

            Please read a book on logic. Existence can be proven. Non-existence cannot be proven. For example, I can prove that frogs exist but I cannot prove that unicorns do not exist.

          • chebstop larrig

            “Please read a book on logic.”

            i can’t. i have no logic in order to read the very words i am writing. i am a paradox of your stick-making.

            “Existence can be proven.”

            cool words mate. cool assertions mate.

            “Non-existence cannot be proven”

            which is wherein those who make statements regarding the non-existence of things always appear to be incredibly stupid and lacking in this “logos” you refer to.

            “For example, I can prove that frogs exist but I cannot prove that unicorns do not exist.”

            cool words mate. now reply to my original questions.

          • John Andrews

            Please read a book on grammar and punctuation.

  • RingedPlover

    ‘Many commentators believe that the destruction of the Christian faith will lead to a kinder, more moral, and charitable society.’ Surely we are heading for the exact opposite of a kinder &c. society?

    • chebstop larrig

      key word is “believe”

  • I have a failed novel myself, for reasons very like Peter’s, that is, although I have been much published in ‘acceptable’ non-fiction, my fiction work names the enemy. It also is about ’emigration,’ but in a different setting. Catholics are on the first space colony when the government’s new dictate to join a world-wide synthesized religion is announced. They come into possession of a capable space craft and they run for it, to a well-positioned asteroid where they set up a distributive (i.e. not capitalist) economy as in medievalism, but updated. Muslims help them (another strike against it). If you’d like to take a look, google Run at Malapert press. Free ecopy for a review! Since no media source will hear me, and I won’t use Amazon. Listen, it’s not only the UK. The US is ruined, its people are ruined, our children are corrupted, our dreams are dead. We cannot face the enormous work (as Hitchens said in this interview) of turning things around, the huge work of evangelizing, of dying for the Faith. We are so confused, we don’t understand all the fighting is between different wings of liberalism, we keep hearing the word Conservative and think there are some! No one will educate us. It seems grim indeed.

  • musosnoop

    I’m not religious but undoubtedly the lack of christianity not only in Britain but the west is directly linked to the moral decay and ongoing destruction of our societies. If you read this Hitchens do check out r/k gene theory in the video below. It helped me understand the Marxist need to destroy.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8N3FF_3KvU